Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lake Baldwin Lights up for the Holidays

Three white horses strolled around the city center on the shore of Lake Baldwin Saturday night - the procession led this year’s Festival of Lights.

Families and friends huddled for warmth along the brick-laden road for a chance to ride in a horse-drawn carriage.

Joey Mangano, founder of Downtown Horse & Carriage II, Inc. said it was his fourth year working with Baldwin Park during the holidays.

Face-painters, jugglers, and plate balancing acts dotted the streets, interacting with the crowd throughout the shopping center.

“It’s hard to stop a show and start again. It’s our job to keep the momentum,” said performer Billy Damon.

Damon showed children how to balance spinning plates on a single stick while his son, Liam, juggled beside him. Damon said he’d traveled the world over and has recently been to Shanghai. Through all of his shows, he leans more toward the “mainly interactive” side of performing.

“During the holiday season, everyone is in a good mood,” Rose Barnett, a sociology major at Valencia said, as she watched as a Christmas tree, complete with ornaments and snow, was painted onto the face of her son.

“The more things keeping the people here after the parade, the longer they’ll stay,” Mangano, of the horse-drawn carriage company, said.

The festivities went well into the night while the Amish-built carriages brought awaiting passengers on a tour of the town.

Previously published in the Valencia Voice

All It Takes is a Little Research to Win the Lottery

Photo by Elisanett Martinez

Richard Lustig has won the grand prize of the Florida Lottery, seven times, since he began playing 22 years ago. Now he’s selling a guide of tips and tricks for winning the jackpot that anyone, even college students, can cash in on.

“Scratch tickets are the hardest to win, because you have no way of knowing one of the printed winning tickets will end up in Orlando,” he said.

The Florida Lottery website lists information for the different scratch-offs and how many winners are left to be chosen for each game. By developing his method and understanding his chances of winning individual games, he says he wins every day now.

Jason in Kansas City, Mo. won $10,000 with Lustig’s advice and his own daughter and her husband have even won this way. Lustig himself has won seven grand prizes, totaling over $1 million.

Lustig started playing the lottery two weeks after the birth of his son, Nick, in 1988. “I know it was a relief from the medical bills,” Nick said.

He used to consider playing the lotto his part-time job. On the side he played the drums in 60s and 70s rocks acts, traveling around the country while he and his wife ran the national booking agency, Lustig Talent. Now he does what he loves for a living - and that is to play the game.

At a signing for his new book at the Public Libary, downtown, he gave advice newcomers and seasoned veterans of the Florida Lottery. He said to “pick which games you want to play and stick with them,” when you’re just starting out. Lustig also suggested reinvesting ⅓ of the winnings into playing the lottery again, after you’ve played around with the rest of the money, of course.

“What’s the point in having money, if you can’t enjoy it?” he said.

He only recently found out that his friend George, owner of the liquor store Knightly Spirits, sold lottery tickets. Now he goes nowhere else for his morning buy.

“He [George] said, ‘we were getting ready to get rid of the lotto, because it wasn’t doing very good,’ now I’m practically paying his rent, because with the tickets I buy and the winnings I cash in, and now there’s more and more people who have started buying their tickets there.”

“People like success, they want to get on board,” he said.

Special to our readers, the first 10 people to go to the website, and purchase his book will get a free gift - if you mention “Valencia Voice.”

Lustig: “I don’t care if it’s a broke college kid or a senior citizen on social security, don’t spend money you can’t afford. Don’t spend grocery money. Because what happens is people get carried away with this, too and put themselves in debt.”

“But you win at it, if you play smartly.”

Previously published in the Valencia Voice

UCF and SMU Look to the Future after USA Conference game

Photos by Russel Griner

The University of Central Florida (UCF) gained a 17-7 win for the Knights during the 2010 USA Conference title game against the South Methodist University Mustangs (SMU), Saturday. Whether a win or a loss, each team can expect opportunities for advancement in their futures.

The Mustangs didn’t expect an easy win, with the track record of UCF’s players on the line. Coach June Jones of SMU said, “We knew we were going to have a real challenge with our offense against their defense.”

UCF’s Latavius Murray (28) scored a touchdown in the first drive of the game - his first career touchdown. This made for 12 out of 13 games of the season where UCF earned the first points in a game.

Undeterred by the loss, the Mustangs are looking for ways to improve their strategy. For the next game, Chris Banjo, defensive back for SMU, said he planned on “gain[ing] more possessions for offense and making more plays to raise our chances of winning next year.”

While SMU constructed plans for the upcoming season, UCF’s team reflected upon their most recent achievement, winning the USA Conference championship.

Coach George O’Leary gave all credit for the win to his players and their ability to commit to the sport. He said there were no hidden tricks up his sleeve. The Knights “got ahead by Goddfrey,” who is a freshman and was the star quarterback of the game.

“That was the secret,” O’Leary said. “Players make plays, it’s not the trick of the trade, but learning the trade that counts.”

Next on the agenda, UCF will be going to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn. to play against the Georgia Bulldogs on Dec. 31. This would be Georgia’s third time at the Liberty Bowl, since 1987, and UCF’s first invitation to the arena.

Previously published in the Valencia Voice

Monday, November 22, 2010

Young Choreographers Showcase Their Works at Valencia

Valencia’s 12th Annual Choreographers’ Showcase displayed dance numbers entirely comprised of student works, Saturday night. With music by artists such as Hans Zimmer and Rusted Root, the performers moved with the direction of a colored light show to the beat of their own ideas.

Shana Heath, choreographer of the show’s second piece, “Dance in the Sun,” said there were some difficulties organizing her dancers. “It’s not easy getting your dancers to see your vision,” said Health.

“Not everyone hears the same thing,” choreographer of “Versus,” Kristin Edsel said.

The weeks of practice must have paid off in the end, as two audience members in particular found more than a few things praiseworthy about the show.

“I think the third piece was really creative,” said Christen Price, who has aspirations to be in musical theatre. “The transition from [the sound of] frogs to music was a little awkward, but overall it was well thought-out. Even though they were all doing different things, they came together nicely.”

Bonnie Kerlin said, “I was really surprised to see that style of dance. With this the audience really evolves with the dancers, when you don’t know what to expect.”

As a completely student-run operation, the choreographers managed their own rehearsal schedules and either borrowed some moves from past recitals or invented their routines from scratch.

“It’s all experimental,” said Ashley Hymson, choreographer of “Inside,” a dance number in which all four girls wore straight-jackets and twitched and jerked according to character.

“At one point, I just raised my hands in frustration and someone said, ‘That looks good, let’s go with that,’ so we did.”

Although most of the choreographers had danced in many shows over the semesters, this showcase was the first opportunity some had to display their own works.

Kristina Stevens, the stage director, said this was also the first time that auditions were open to the entire college, not restricted to those with majors in the arts. About five people from outside of the theatre and dance departments performed during the showcase - this was after a month of auditions and a process of adjudication by a panel of judges who reviewed the dancers.

Some students from the University of Florida served as guest artists for the evening, to bring their talent to Valencia.

For more information, please call the Performing Arts Center Box Office at 407-582-2900.

Previously published in the Valencia Voice

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chi Epsilon Chapter of PTK Inducts New Members

“People fall into malaise, angst, and inaction” when faced with a wealth of easily accessible information, guest speaker Dr. Valerie Burks said, in her message to the new inductees of Phi Theta Kappa, Friday night.

“My end goal is to do the best at learning well. My grandfather always said, ‘The day you stop learning is the day you start dying,’” said Alex Adams, sitting with his fiancee, Katie Smith.

Quoting Nietzsche’s essay, “On the Use and Abuse of History for Life,” along with a South Park episode, Greenday and Ralph Waldo Emerson, Burks said that people from this generation tend to become immobilized by their advanced knowledge of the past. This can lead to inaction in the future, if it is not assessed and put to use properly.

The Fall 2010 inductees into the Chi Epsilon chapter of PTK promised to do just that, as they became the newest members of the honor society.

Raising five children, who are all in college, Eric Tanyhill supported his wife, Holly, as she stepped up to receive her membership gifts.

“We are very competitive as a family,” Tanyhill said. “To keep up with the conversation, we had to go back to college.”

As the “Oath of Membership” declares, these members will be using their personal motivations and new-found fellowship as a basis for giving back to each other and the community.

The west campus chapter will be sponsoring a project to assist in bone marrow transplants during the month of December. “One chapter is actually going to Africa to help distribute clean water to people in need,” said Robert Stio, president of Chi Epsilon’s PTK.

“I had a good GPA from the start, but I had to work to get more credits to join,” said Patrick O’Connor. “It was kind of hard, working on different classes, helping with kids, house chores. Doing this has helped me a lot with time management.”

Lacy Bail, 17 years-old, helped her mother run the family business, while maintaining good grades, and overcoming other obstacles which lead to her induction to the society.

They were each given a rose and a scroll as they signed the chapter roster, sealing their names into the history of the club.

Previously published in the Valencia Voice

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Rogers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel” Brings the Past to Life

Through a special arrangement with R&H theatricals, the Valencia Character Company performed the musical play, “Carousel,” Saturday night.

“Carousel” is a play based on Ferenc Molnar’s “Lilliom,” surrounding the lives of an everyday mill worker who falls for an every day fair barker. In this case, Julie Jordan (Beatrice Roberts) and Billy Bigelow (Paul Hambidge) suck all of their friends and family into this swirling escapade of drama, sacrifice, labor and love.

“It was really hard to say to her [Julie,] ‘you’re better off,’ after Billy died,” actress Karyln Koebe who played Julie’s friend, Carrie, in the play. “How can you even say that to a person?” she said.

This was the fourth production that Roberts has made an appearance in and Koebe’s tenth or fifteenth.

“I liked that they did a very classical musical,” said Seth Lindsey, a Valencia student who is directing a show next week at Breaththrough Theater.

He said he was anxious to see how the appearance of the stage turned out. “The set makes me happy, I had seen it in pieces and parts, but never in its entirety and it makes me very happy,” said Lindsey.

University of Florida student, Deborah Christopher, attended the showing to support her twin sister Dorothy who played Arminy.

“She was really excited to be in the show,” Christopher said, “She just rehearsed for fun.”

The troupe sang, danced, and acted according to how people must have lived on Coney Island during the early plantation days of America, with a few personal experiences thrown in.

“Enoch [Snow] put on a new suit and it was like he was a different person,” student Brenna Warner said after characters Mr. and Mrs. Snow settled down and started building their sardine business.

“Carousel” was directed and produced by Julia Allardice Gagne, with choreography by Lesley Brasseux-Rodgers. Tim Hanes and Alan Gerber led the orchestra.

The show will go on through the rest of the week, starting again on Oct. 28 - 31.

Photos by Amy Cuccaro

Previously published in the Valencia Voice

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Smelly Cat

I'm just adding a little fun to this otherwise "professional blog."

Smelly Cat by Phoebbe Buffay (Friends)

and some niceness just for you to listen to on this beautiful, 56 degree weather, day in Florida.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Heart Walk Inspires Change

VCC students, Dylan Anderson and Dylan Morley pose in front of the Mile 2 marker of the 3.1 mile track.Loch Haven park, in Orlando, saw one of the largest turn outs for a charitable event in years, Saturday. The American Heart Association’s Heart Walk had participation of over 11,000 walkers, runners, dogs, and strollers.

“It’s a good cause, the support was amazing to see. I wish it wasn’t so early or end so quickly, but overall, it was great,” said Chloe Fleece. She's a current student at the University of Central Florida student.

The American Heart Association's goal is to improve the cardiovascular health, of all Americans by 20 percent, by the year 2020. The weekend event has been inspiring people from across the nation to wake up early, in support of the cause.

“What inspired me was the fact that I am living with a heart disease,” Fleece said. “I wish I would have done this a long time ago, but recently been trying to lose weight and work on my cardio, get my heart strong.”

Different teams, such as the Team Colling: Stewart’s Army and those from Lockheed and Martin gathered donations for the day. The Florida Hospital’s Heart Walk team raised the most, out of any other corporate team, with a total of $172,000.

The donations for entire the event exceeded $1 million.

Volunteers performed life expectancy tests and measured the antioxidant levels of participants and while the vendors hung around the stage area, keeping order and collecting donations, the runners were hitting the streets of Princeton and Alden for the beginning of the race.

According to the American Heart Association website, heart diseases are the nation’s number one and number three killers, which claim more than 865,000 lives each year.

Just in case something were to happen to any one of them, there were paramedics on the scene. They were clothed in red and equipped with first aid supplies, strolling through the crowd, on bike.

The standard route was 3.1 miles, with an alternative 1 mile route, for beginners.

“The heart walk was a step in the right direction,” walker Dylan Anderson, said.

A truck with a bed full of ice and water bottles, sat parked in one of the driveways of the tree lined residential street, for walkers to grab as they passed by. A crowd of walkers heads down Alden Rd. in Loch Haven park, for the first leg of the journey.

There was an accordion player on every corner, it seemed, an unexpected contribution to the background chatter of the walkers and runners.

“It’s a great way to start a Saturday morning,” Valencia student, Chris Scheidell said. “Seeing so many people doing such a great thing, it’s really motivating. It’s really inspiring.”

Student, Dylan Morley said, “Yeah, we all came out for a great cause and to get some early morning exercise. There was a lot of great energy and it was the most fun you could ever have, walking in a circle.”

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Famous Poet Recites at Valencia Communtiy College

”Poetry has the power to move us from a place inside our heads, to a safer place,” Patricia Smith said Thursday, Sept. 16 while performing in the Student Lounge of the Winter Park Campus.

Smith is the author of Blood Dazzler, her fifth book and most recently published book of poetry. Last week, she stood in front of a group of more than 80 students, all eyes glued on her, as she read a few of her pieces. Some of them were straight from her book, others were recited from beneath closed eyelids.

Freshman Jillian Harris, said “If I closed my eyes, I could’ve seen the faces of the people she was reading about. It’s like she was channeling another person through her voice.”

During Smith’s performance of the poem, “34,” her voice fluctuated while she re-enacted 34 personalities that she remembers from her time in Louisiana, after hurricane Katrina hit.

She said she felt compelled to connect with these individuals, who were struggling so visibly, without food to fill their children’s bellies and no beds to rest their heads in.

”She’s really ballsy and cool,” Harris said. “She shows no fear.”

Student Dylan Morley asked Smith about how she goes about the writing process. She shared some insight into her life, as a teen, as well as what it takes to inspire her now.

Movies on television, such as Clash of the Titans, have provided beginning ideas for some of her poems. She wrote a poem about how Medusa came to be the way she is, as a direct result, of watching late-night TV.

“I record snippets of the conversations of people I encounter and I keep a small recorder under my pillow, just in case,” Smith said.

In between poems, she’d ask how the audience was doing and would shift her weight from one foot to the next, in visible anticipation.

“I judge my poems by the way the audience reacts and by the looks on their faces,” she said.

There was a question and answer part to the event, as well as time for book signing, last Thursday. She currently teaches literature and poetry at City University of New York.

Previously published in the Valencia Voice

Friday, September 3, 2010

Valencia's Welcome Back BBQ

Valencia’s Welcome Back BBQ is a staple that marks the beginning of each new year at the college. This past Thursday, the West campus hosted the event with a turn out of more than 100 students.

As soon as Fall semester began, news of the event traveled around the campus. Some were warned of the impending frenzy and others just happened upon the scene, by chance.

“I was just about to get some lunch, then I heard some music and I figured they were doing something spectacular,” sophomore, Anthony Alicea said.

Student, Von Jennings heard of the BBQ through his Atlas email account and “I think one of the maintenance men told me about it last week,” he said.

SGA organizes Welcome Back Day, every year, but this time around Juliana Montoya is serving as president of the club. She help set the BBQ into motion.

As far as activities go, Premed student, Manvella Pope, had her silhouette drawn and quickly cut out by artist, Susan and also received a free sign plate from another of the vendors.

Along with the many booths encouraging students to register to vote and dishing out body art, there were also tables spreading the word on different clubs and organizations.

Pope said “I like that there are other groups here, like HERO for humans rights.”

For the upcoming Consitution Day, Valencia will have a treasure hunt, with a brand new Kindle as first place prize. The goal, here, is for students to become familiar with the West campus while learning more about the details of the U.S. Constitution, Montoya said.

Previously published in the Valencia Voice

Thursday, May 27, 2010

What Constitutes Sanitation in Hospitals?

You would think that the most sanitary place on Earth would be in the center of a hospital. Recent studies show that millions of people, worldwide, are becoming ill from "healthcare associated infections."

Healthcare associated infections afflict thousands of patients, every year.

"HAI often leads to lenghtening hospitalization, increasing the likelihood of readmission, and adding sizably to the cost of care per patient," said Jeff Moskovitz in his Elder Care Blog.

These are illnesses that are developed within a hospital or healthcare facility. They are not previously accounted for.

HAIs are caused from the moment a patient walks into a hospital, to their treatment of another condition, until this new HAI is discovered and treated.

Healthcare associated infections can appear in an array of forms. They can appear in the form of an infection or as pneumonia.

Ventilator associated pneumonia (VAP) occurs when the mechanical ventilation given to patients is compromised.

CDCs National Nosocomial Infection Surveillance System reported, in 2002, that patients receiving this method of oxygen provision had 6.21 times the risk of developing pneumonia.

Another type of an HAI is surgical site infection.

According to Kimberly-Clark Healthcare, "surgical site infections can result in up to $10 billion in treatment costs in the U.S. alone."

These specific infections can stem from surgical hypothermia, contamination of the incision area, bacteria cross contamination, and surgical instrument contamination.

Barbara Dunn, of HAIWatch News, said "hospitals still have work to do to put an end to the ongoing, but very solvable, problem of patients acquiring life-threatening infections in hospitals."

In order to prevent healthcare associated infections from occuring, proper hygiene must be accounted for and protective equipment such as gloves should be in use at all times. When disposable tools are used once and only once on each patient, germs and bacteria are also less likely to develop.

For more information, see for tips on prevention and more on the issue of healthcare associated infections.

[/edit] I will change this one up in the near future. [/edit]

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Brazilian Day in Miami

There was a shifting sea of yellow and blue moving about the borders of Miami’s Bayfront Park on Sunday. These were the shirts and flags of Brazilians contributing their own flavor to the melting pot of America.

For the first time, TV Globo Internacional brought its featured Brazilian Day event to Miami for one of the most anticipated events of the year; all in the face of mid 60 degree weather and soaking rain showers.

The Brazil Information Center estimates that there are over a million people of Brazilian descent who currently live throughout the entire country of the U.S.

Hundreds of people from all walks of life came to partake in the Brazilian food, art, and most prominently, music. This was an open event, completely free to the public; with the exception of food and merchandise.

Miami’s Bayfront Park was flooded with families, friends, and dancers of all ages. As the drum beats built up from a steady rhythm to an almost hypnotic pulse, people began to move their feet: left to right, left to right, to the cadence of sound. And this carried on throughout the almost 12 hour long event.

The blending of fast paced reggae, African drum beats, wind instruments, and what sounded like a Hawaiian ukelele came together to bring the unique theme of the Brasil culture into perspective.

TV Globo partnered with Sunny Fest and the Let’s Speak Portuguese Foundation to bring the experience to Miami. Just last year, TV Globo hosted Brazilian Day in Canada, England, Japan, and Angola.

The center stage was the main attraction. Nestled between a clamshell of glass faced buildings and the Miami oceanside, this is where the major events were held.

English/Portuguese singer, Samantha Bonser, sang the national anthem and guitarist, Luiz “father of AxĂ©” Caldas, performed as well.

Claudia Leitte, who is a very popular singer in Brasil, recently started touring for a solo album and Brazilian Day in Miami was one of her first concerts, flying solo.

It was still raining 9 hours after the gates opened, when crowds began to pool together in front of the main stage. They were all following the bass beats to one of Leitte’s famous songs. She also played her own renditions of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones.

Not too far away, a small family entertained themselves by playing their own music. “It’s raining, what are we supposed to do?” said Paula, with a laugh.

Luciano, nicknamed “Cowboy,” usually plays in bars and at family gatherings, he said, but found himself singing songs by Alan Jackson and George and Matheus on that day under cover of an acoutistical parking garage, just down the street from where Leitte rocked the crowd.

So full of energy, people were dancing in the mud with their friends, hands clasped together up in the air, heads swaying down low to the music, oblivious to the fact that it was pouring down rain in otherwise sunny southern Florida. “I love it, it’s like the whole country comes together for one day,” said Charlene Franca, who came to last year’s Brazilian Day.

Previously published in the Valencia Voice

"Students Helping Students:" A Graduating Class Gift

"Students Helping Students" is a fresh new way for college students to give a cash gift to other students, as they graduate and start a new life outside of Valencia. The Alumni Association has spearheaded the cause.

"The funds will be available to support Valencia students through scholarships for expenses such as tuition, books, fees, etc. The level of support and number of scholarships will depend on the total amount there will be to award," said Barbara Shell, Assistant Director of Community and Alumni Relations.

Most donations are around $10, but some have been as high as $50 and each donation is matched, dollar for dollar. During the graduation information sessions on the different campuses, new graduates contributed their spare change to growing well.

This year's graduating class is the largest the college has ever had. If every one of the 6,100 students, in this class, donated $5, that comes out to a potential of $30,500 for new students on every campus.

One student donated an entire credit card and others put checks or cash into the glass bowl at Winter Park campus, last Thursday.

Classes are $87.36, per credit hour, for Florida residents; which is about $262.08 for each class. This doesn't include various lab fees, books, or other registration costs.

With the rising costs of tuition and housing, college students need all the money they can get. The Valencia Alumni Association is here to lend a hand, as long as graduating students are willing to give back to the college that has helped them along their way.

"We have collected $510 so far for the Students Helping Students Class Gift. With the dollar-for-dollar match up to $2,000 from the Valencia Alumni Association, that increases the $510 to $1,020," said Shell.

"The grand total of Students Helping Students Class Gift donations we have at the end of April, plus the Alumni match, will be announced by the Distinguished Graduate for this year, Kim Do, at Commencement on May 9th," said Shell.

Students can check back, on Atlas, to see when and where the Alumni Association will be collecting donations at a campus and is available to accept electronic donations.

Logo geek speaks to VCC students

By Collin Dever & Shannon Scheidell

Aaron Draplin is obsessed with logos. It is an obsession, turned passion, turned career, turned life. Right out of high school, he headed straight for the commercial side of art. To Draplin, “there was a beauty in things people overlook.”

Speaking to a pack of font nerds on Valencia’s east campus, Draplin talked about his work, his hobby, and to inspire.

In the middle of his road trips across America, to acquire knicknacks and preserve old packagings pulled from cobweb filled garages and condemned factories, alone, he gets called to design a few unique ones as well.

“Junk has some great shit to be discovered, which you won’t find in a design book,” said Draplin.

For the 2008 campaign for the stimulus package, the Secretary of Transportation picked the logos his company (DDC) made. Sharing pictures of his logos next to Barrack Obama and Joe Biden. Draplin also makes time to create for mom and pop shops, and everything in between.

“Hey, when I made pizzas, there was someone who didn’t like how I made pizza, whatever. So, you make them love you... instead of showing them three things, you show them 30 and make them love it,” Draplin said.

Draplin and his team design graphics for anything from snowboard magazines to logos featuring the head of his friend, Gary, the weiner dog.

“Work hard, make it fun, make up your own projects, invent your stuff, and then do a good job when you get that job. Up until that part, it’s gonna be kinda hard. We’re in a tough time.“

“So screw it, don’t wait for people to bring you gigs, make your own. Make a logo for a band, make a logo for your grandma. Go look at a logo that you hate and redo it.

Previously published in the Valencia Voice

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bake Sale For Haiti Relief

ORLANDO, Fla. -- It has been four months since the 7.0 earthquake wracked the tropical island of Haiti and there is still so much left to fix.

The Campus Crusade for Christ club at Valencia did their part, last Thursday on the East campus. The president and vice president of the club to manned a table selling baked goods and treats in exchange for a donation to the relief fund for Haiti.

The prices ranged from 25 to 50 cents and they were not selling tiny snacks. There were hand made cookies, brownies, rice crispy treats, and different kinds of muffins.

Both students and teachers, alike, contributed to the mass of treats. Alexi Minnick, vice president of Campus Crusade, made the brownies for sale.

"All of the proceeds go straight to the Salvation Army for Haiti," Carolyn Ducker said. She's the president of the club.

The donations totaled more than $20 within the first half hour of the bake sale. A few students would walk passed the table and ultimately find their way back to stop and donate.

One student, Joey Mendez, bought about a handful of cookies and brownies from the girls. He even ate a few before he left the table.

With the prices of the food so small, students were able to go home with an arm full, without spending more than $5.

Different clubs at Valencia are constantly raising money and awareness for the plight of Haiti, Campus Crusade for Christ being one that just won't give up.

"We hope to raise as much as humanly possible," Ducker said.

Previously published in the Valencia Voice

New Food Shelf for Students Available

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Denise Elmore has been organizing and pushing for food collection to begin at Valencia and it's finally begun!

The bill was passed last February to set this operation in motion. In order for the school to legitimately collect and dispense free food to the students, Elmore underwent a long drawn out procedural process. Students can now donate food to those who are in need or at a loss for food, any time during school hours.

"Donate anything, then we'll sort it out," Elmore said. "But we request non perishables, cans with pop top lids, microwaveable stuff, anything the average student would eat." On the go meal bars, vegetarian foods, or Cheetos would be good too.

Students can, also, give their feedback to SGA regarding what they'd like to eat and what students should donate.

There are many reasons why a student might not be able to afford their own food. Some people set their education as their top priority, over having a job. They can just take out student loans, instead, and pay the money back after they graduate.

In 2008, more than 30 percent of the nation's population fell below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The poverty line for a household of 1 person is $10,830 and for 3 people, $18,310.

Elmore said, "The food pantry is for anyone who needs it, students and faculty or any employee of Valencia."

Students should donate as soon as they can, summer is on its way.

Summer is the season with the highest amount of hungry students. They may have to feed children who are on summer vacation and would otherwise receive free food during the school year, in the cafeteria.

There is also the factor of the low amount of money that registered students can receive in grants and loans, over the summer. Many don't know this, but if a student is enrolled in 2 classes, during the summer, they are only eligible for half of the financial aid they would attain if they were enrolled full time. Taking part time classes may feel like a full 4 class schedule, because even the largest term, Summer C, is still about 4 weeks shorter than the Fall and Spring terms. Summer A and B having about 4 to 6 weeks to each term.

The food shelf is run as a sort of a discreet operation. With SGA running it, there are no forms to sign when you either donate food or take food from the room. "You have to trust that only those in need will take advantage of it and
students need to trust SGA to keep it discreet," Elmore said.

"Confidentiality is respected," she said.

Because the pantry is still in the beginning stage, there is still some expanding and allocation of space to take place. Any excess food will be donated to Second Harvest, if students don't need it.

Donations can be dropped off at the SGA office in building 3 at the West campus.

Previously published in the Valencia Voice

Human Trafficking: The Modern Day Slave Trade

ORLANDO, Fla. -- "Slavery is hiding," is the name of an active campaign that struggles against the abuse and debasement involved in the modern day slavery, otherwise known as human trafficking.

Tomas Lares was the guest speaker of a public information session, held last Wednesday and hosted by Valencia's HERO club. The issues of every day minor sex trafficking and forced labor were among the major issues of the event.

The fact is 2,100 children are reported missing in the U.S. every day and an additional 100,000 to 300,000 are at risk for becoming sexual commodities.

In one case, a 16 year old girl began talking, online, to an average 17 year old boy. They began talking and exchanging pictures and pieces of their lives one another, just beginning to open up. The girl didn't know he worked for human traffickers in Puerto Rico and that she would soon be at their mercy. She was rescued after 3 weeks, but by that time she had already been raped and abused by dozens of men.

Kidnapping isn't exclusive to children, alone. In 2006, 24 year old, Jennifer Kesse, was taken from her home in Orlando. No one has seen or heard from her since. No one knows whether she is involved in the human trafficking ring in Florida.

The main motivation for human traffickers is money. The net profit for trafficking was $36 billion last year. Between $33 and $34 billion was made in drug trafficking.

"Greed doesn't discriminate," said Professor Subhas Rampersaud, adviser to the HERO club. "It doesn't care what age you are or of what descent."

People unknowingly support this inhumane business throughout their day to day lives. Mail order brides and female escorts are usually engaged in forced labor by the hand of traffickers. During the Super Bowl, last year, a recorded 300,000 escorts were paid for in the U.S. over the course of a week.

There is still much to be done to prevent human trafficking from occurring.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and DCF have a task force, which meets every November. The problem resides in the constant battle over jurisdiction between counties and the never ending red tape that must be fought off in order to bring an individual case to court.

One setback includes the fact that the victims of human trafficking are usually minors. The child must have a file in DCF's system in order to be considered for help. Then, after forms have been signed, government officials have been contacted, and questions have been asked of both sides, the child is considered "rescued." When rescued, the victims are put in safe houses, until the police and DCF can decide what to do with them. Most end up in a juvenile detention center for lack of a place to stay.

"The system is broken," said Lares.

HERO stands for the Human Empathy and Rights Organization and it's a student club, based on the West campus. Member Margaret Lavinghousez designed the logo and her mother thought of the name for the club.

Former vice president for SGA and current member of HERO, Edward Uzzle, said when he first heard of this tragedy, it squeezed his heart. He was so affected by the information given to him that he had to join the club, as soon as possible. He wants to make a difference in the lives of these victims and help prevent this from happening in the future.

These victims need the help of others to be free of their bonds.

Various psychological tactics are used to keep trafficking victims attached to their owners. Traffickers use drug dependency, debt bondage, threats against family, mental abuse, physical abuse, and many other ways to beat these people into submission.

"Now that you have the information, if you don't speak up, you're part of the problem," said Rampersaud. "Don't let your reaction to this information make you paralyzed. You are becoming a victim, in doing so."

If you think someone may be either a suspect or a victim of human trafficking, you may contact HERO, or find more information at

Previously published in the Valencia Voice

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Students Speak Up About Valencia Food

ORLANDO, Fla. -- How often do you get the chance to speak your mind, about the food you eat every day, directly to the people who make it? Cabin Creek invited anyone and everyone to an open discussion forum last Thursday, on behalf of the food offered at Valencia.

The SGA legislature holds a Town Hall meeting every semester, on every campus. One representative didn’t expect this many people to show up, “we usually have a smaller turnout,” he said.

Ryan Wilson, east campus manager of Cabin Creek, said this was the top selling campus and they made a good choice to hold the discussion there.

Cabin Creek is a major contributor to the school’s overall budget, rolling in an expected $100,000 to go to the school’s “coffers,” as Larry Tackett put it.

He is the co-founder and co-owner of Cabin Creek, along with his wife Gini Tackett.

As the meeting began, Tackett highlighted the main points of the proceeding discussion.

Standing along the walls and strung throughout the audience, students and faculty alike brought with them food and drinks - straight from the cafeteria that Cabin Creek maintains.

When the forum opened up for comments and suggestions from the audience, a female student told the legislative board of that she buys food from them four times per week. She asked why their customers were being treated without respect.

Wilson responded in saying they were “cracking down on employees.” He said, “I take a lot of pride in people being treated fairly. I’ll handle that immediately and try and make it right.”

He suggested that the next time the situation arises, students should bring it to his attention to take care of the problem as soon as it happens.

“I’m always here, even if you can’t see me, I’m always around.”

One student said, “The people are always friendly and warm, the food is great. I have nothing but praise.”

Marissa Sanchez had a different opinion entirely. She said the ratio of price to amount of food doesn’t match up. She suggested they offer a $5 all you can eat buffet from 12 - 2 p.m. to appeal to more customers.

Member of SGA, James Fremming did second the motion.

“Without proper proportion, we will not be able to think to our fullest potential,” he said.

With the steady rise in concern for the environment, among students, the topic of whether Cabin Creek would be “going green” was also brought up. Wilson said that they are switching from foam cups to paper ones and that students would be able to have their own thermoses filled with coffee from the Little Bean Co. to reduce garbage, saying “a big chunk of the budget goes to paper cups.”

The amount of money they have at their disposal is a constant factor for small businesses. “The foam cups are cheaper but have a longer lifespan in landfills,” Wilson said. They are harder to break down.

There was little they could do to reduce energy consumption during school hours, but they will be installing energy efficient lighting fixtures in the cafeteria to help with their overall carbon footprint.

“I’ve been doing this for 15 years and there are always going to be improvements to be made,” Wilson said.

Cabin Creek has a national sales deal with Cisco foods, in that they don’t sell low quality products. This “mom and pop” company is equal to the largest restaurant chains, Tackett said. “The pricing is very fair, compared with campuses of other colleges and neighboring restaurants.”

Student Ian Bowers begged to differ.

“The quality has declined and the price has gone up,” Bowers said. “Back in 2007, the quality of the chicken tenders was like restaurant style, but now you get an inconsistent amount of pieces,” among various other issues.

From the conception of Cabin Creek to its second year, the profit margin leapt from about -$189,000 to -$45,000. This year, the founding board expects further improvement: “I feel very good about this year. It is the first year that we’re in the black instead of the red.” The company is now able to begin to pay off past debt.

The staff of Cabin Creek expressed a personal connection with the college. “We love Valencia,” Tackett said. “You have a place in our hearts.”

Previously published in the Valencia Voice

5th Annual 5k Run in memorium of student Justin Harvey

ORLANDO, Fla. - The 5th annual 5k Run took place Sunday in honor of Justin Harvey. Runners and walkers of all ages came to school bright and early to raise money for the cause. All benefits from the race went toward scholarships at Valencia Community College and the Alumni Association.

The University of Central Florida student athletic trainers organization also helped the runners with physical warm ups.

The 5k wouldn't have happened without the ambition of Harvey, who worked with UCF to organize the original event.

It took his mother four years to finally attend the event named for the memory of her son. She came, walked and left before the awards were even been handed out.

Describing Harvey, Eileen Stana said, "he was one of the most healthy, energetic guys I know." A few of the participants said they knew Harvey personally and didn't expect for him to tell them he was sick, all of a sudden, one day five years ago.

He passed away two weeks before the first race, still trying to coordinate the coming race while in his hospitable bed. One Alumni member said he was really selfless; that he cared more for others than about himself.

For most people, it's either their first 5k race they had ever run or it was their first at Valencia.

The overall female awards for best time went to the Stricker sisters for first and third place and Francesca Rivas for second.

Rivas normally runs about eight miles every day and makes sure to eat plenty of pasta, cereal and meat to maintain her diet. She also drinks about a gallon of water a day. "I don't really think about it," she said, "I just like water."

Runner Eric Irizarry came in second place, for overall male.

Under the tent right in front of the University Building, nursing and respiratory care students administered physical tests to participants. Nita Harris is a nursing student with two semesters remaining. She said her professor, Kim Laughman, was running while she helped assess the health of students before and after the run.

"A lot of students have heart murmurs, they may feel dizzy and lightheaded and not know why," said program director of respiratory care, Jamy Chulak.

Tom Harris, his wife and two sons, have been running since the race was initially organized. Lee Harris won second place in his division, while his brother and father both won third in their age groups. Lee Harris has been running since he was five years old.

Kelly Knauth, of the Communications department, is participating for the first time this year. She said it was important to raise money for student scholarships and "it's a neat way to meet people. Everyone has a common goal."

Harvey was earning his degree in Sports Medicine, but few people knew about his passion for music. He was also a concert musician.

He was also part of the scholarship committee, as well as being on the Valencia Student Alumni Board. He founded the 5k run on Feb. 26, 2006.

Previously published in the Valencia Voice

Friday, March 19, 2010

Chinese Festival

ORLANDO, Fla. - Valencia Community College is bringing everyone together by connecting students from different cultures. The East Campus hosted the annual Chinese Festival on March 3, this year of the Tiger, for hours of enlightening activities and performances.

The members of the International Club were there to help set up the decorations, hand out fried dumplings, and translate the names of students into modern Chinese symbols.

Jorge Reyes, a student volunteer, received both his first name and last name in full Chinese characters, as translated by Edsion Dai, a member of the club. The words are written according to their pronunciation, said Dai, in segments proportional to the number of syllables in the name.

Lion dancing took place, which usually entails two people per lion, one the head, the other the tail end, who wear a traditional animal costume and move to the rhythm of a beating drum. Each motion and flick of the lions' "body parts" symbolizes different behaviors and overall emotions that the lion may be having. For example, during the beginning of the dance, the two lions greet each other by seeming to sniff one another's behind. Then each dances, kicks, and jumps around to depict the different events of one larger story.

The theatrics were provided by the Traditional Martial Arts Center. The performers were Fallon Mosley, as the head of the gold lion, with Sifu Charles Rivera, as the tail. Bryan Schmidt and Donald Shaw made up the silver and purple lion.

Students not standing around to watch the show were lining up to participate in the activities under cover of the campus' library entrance. Volunteers and International Club members taught students the art of Origami, Chinese paper cutting, the meaning of their Chinese Zodiac signs, and how to properly use chopsticks. If a student visited a least 2 of these events, they would earn a free dumpling as a warm treat in the face of the harsh wind tearing around the stands that day.

In the middle of the cultural fray, the club president, Meghan LeFranc, was called on stage to accept her Student of the Year Award by adviser Lori Sunday. LeFranc welcomed and thanked everyone for coming to the event and spoke briefly about how enthusiastic she is about being a member of such a vital group on campus.

Originally from France, she said, "Yes, I'm from France, but the Eiffel Tower is not France to me." She said the objective of the club is to bring different students together to give them an insight as to the culture behind the icons that seem to represent each country.

"We try to be a democracy," she said. As the president of the International Club, she wants to hear the views and opinions of the members to try to meet their needs and give each one an opportunity to show the school what their heritage means to them.

Continuing the action, Rivera and Sifu Sam Winters demonstrated the moves involved in proper Tai Chi technique. Regarding this type of meditation, Winters said that it is almost like "moving yoga."

"It increases your balance, stamina and your coordination. Thousands of people in China do it every day. Everyday, like boom! They're in the park, doing Tai Chi.

"It's so good for your health," Winters said.

Each "sifu" brought out his own sword, by the end of the event, to show their skills in Tang Soo Do to the growing crowd.

Rivera has been practicing various Martial Arts for more than 30 years, where students Schmidt and Shaw have been practicing for as much as 14 years, between the both of them.

The International Club has been up and running for more than 20 years now, and still comes together on a weekly basis to bring information to anyone who is curious enough to attend the meetings.

The club is especially for those who wish to travel and learn about life in different countries. Member Marie Andresol said that being involved with the club can help students understand what it would be like to immerse themselves in another culture. The information provided every Tuesday, when the club meets, can give them knowledge on where to go and how to behave in different cultural settings.

Previously published in the Valencia Voice

16th Annual Soul Food Festival

ORLANDO, Fla. - Black History Month was packed with all kinds of cultural events, hosted by Valencia's staff and students. One day, in particular, held the Soul Food Festival on the West campus with Janet Bryan as the primary hostess.

The festival took place Thursday, under the overhanging roof of the side of the SSB building and spread to the picnic area beyond. Students gathered around to wait in line for a heaping plate of African American delicacies, while Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream," speech played in the background.

This was the 16th annual Soul Food Festival and the third year being run with the help of student volunteer and all-around community representative, Janet Bryan.

John Stover is the adviser to A2CS (African American Cultural Society) and Black High Achievers. He organized the festival from the ground up, with the help of Bryan.

“Some of the other festivities that we do help students understand more about our culture," said Stover.

The Soul Food Festival is named after Janet Bryan, who has been a very community oriented student and volunteer for Valencia for the last 3 years. She’s a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the book club, and she’s also on the Committee for Social Justice.

“I like Valencia, I live here. I got a room upstairs and everything," said Bryan. She was only partly joking, of course.

Bryan volunteers at Christian charities and Disney. She’ll also be going to the Dominican Republic next month to be a part of the Civilian Police Patrol for 14 weeks from March to June. She had to postpone the trip, recently, because she is working with an orphanage now.

“I believe in giving back to the community. Someone gave me this, so I wanted to give back,” said Bryan.

Almost every day, there is an event taking place on the West campus of the school. Student Beverly Stanisclause said that she heard of the festival by way of the announcements section of her Atlas account. There were also signs on the street and on billboards around the school that advertised the event.

Stanisclause is a full time student at Valencia. She decided to stop by and grab some food after her classes were finished for the day. Acaie and saw fish is her favorite soul food. She was excited to try the DSM Catering version of the dish. “I think I see it up there, already," she said.

While students waited in line to pick up either fried chicken, green beans, pasta or banana pudding they talked among themselves and read a brief snapshot of the history of the contributions that African American leaders gave to America. There was a framed poster of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X shaking hands on the right and African artifacts to the left of milling students.

“We have a lot of displays and we hand out scholarship information, which also helps," said Stover.

A few tables held decorations, showcasing original artifacts from Kenya, Africa. There were fur-lined drums, wooden statues, pewter dinnerware, and even miniature clay models of cultural icons.

The free food was provided by a company called DSM Catering, suggested by the Black History Class, on campus. DSM is almost 10 years in the making, which consists of an entire family of cooks and chefs.

“Yeah, we’ve been doing it all our lives,” said Raymond Murray.

Sandra, William, and Raymond Murray started the company in Long Island, New York and the three moved down to Florida together shortly after.

Guest speaker Alzo Reddick, an ex-Army General, said a few words to motivate students sitting around and enjoying the "soul food" and company of nearby friends.

“It’s not about where you began, but where you end up,” said Reddick, referencing the immense amount of potential that each and every college student, and American possessed within themselves; this being regardless as to the color of a person's skin.

Previously published in the Valencia Voice

"Hiding in the Spotlight," the story of a woman with "Steel in her Spine."

ORLANDO, Fla. - Orlando Sentinel columnist Greg Dawson spoke to the students of Valencia, Friday, about one of the most personal aspects of his life: his mother.

Dawson's mother, Zhanna Arshanskaya, is one of 16,000 Jewish people to survive the invasion of Ukraine by Germany during the Holocaust. Only she and her sister, Frina, are known survivors to escape the clutches of the Nazi Army, during the Soviet era.

The two girls, then 12 and 8 years old, hid in plain sight of the Germans by "entertaining the enemies." The sisters played piano, acted, and sang under commission of the Third Reich.

"By the time I had heard the story, I was about 30," Dawson said. He was not raised by his mother, knowing she had survived the horrors of the Holocaust. "It was almost like hearing a stranger tell you this story."

Arshanskaya was given the chance to jump out of line of the impending death march at Drabitsky Yar through a bribe that her father, Dmitri, made with one of the Nazi soldiers. He gave the soldier his pocket watch and asked to turn a blind eye, so that young Zhanna could escape into the woods.

It worked.

Her father's last words to her were, "I don't care what you do, just live."

Dawson presented a short video outlining some of the trials that Arshanskaya went through, the students in the audience paying rapt attention.

The Jewish were taken from their homes and marched for 2 weeks, having no food and very little water to survive on. Not all of them survived.

Statues meant to pay homage to famed poets and artists, of the age, hung the corpses of Jewish people, instead. The city of Kharkov, Ukraine would never be the same.

He admitted that it wasn't too easy to write the book, "Hiding in the Spotlight."

"You can be a great sprinter, without being a marathon runner and vice-versa," said Dawson. Essentially, you may be able to write short news stories full of facts and objectivity, but when you try to write a more creative, personal narrative, it can wear you out.

Being a career journalist, he has learned this lesson all too well.

Valencia student Amanda Masri already began reading the book, after picking it up in the bookstore, a few days before the event.

"I wasn't a huge fan of his writing at first, because of his journalistic style," Masri said, "but it is interesting. He's very facts-oriented."

To everyone's surprise, sophomore Richelle Clark, received a copy of Dawson's book, with an exceptional addition within the first few pages.

Arshanskaya, herself, signed Clark's book, without anyone knowing beforehand. She is the only person to have this signature in her copy of the book.

Young Frina Arshanskaya escaped, but to this day will not divulge to anyone how she managed to survive.

The Arshanskayas were reunited several days later, a hospitable couple, the Boganchas, took them in.

In 1945, they were liberated by Americans and taken to a displaced person's camp in Munich, Germany. Larry Dawson was leader of the camp.

Young Zhanna could hide her heritage inside the facade of an Aryan child, but she could not hide her talent for music. Larry Dawson helped the girls organize a concert to perform in New York, where they both gained scholarships to Julliard.

Eventually, Arshanskaya married David Dawson, Larry's brother. By then, he was an established musician and a member of a quartet at Berkshire University.
The student audience was highly affected, in sharing these personal memories with Dawson.

"It was heart-wrenching to see the picture of his mother, standing by the tree," said Carla Rhodes, a sophomore. "It's as if you're right there, with them."

"I came to appreciate just how strong she is," Dawson said. Because she was a concert pianist, he thinks that she gained that "focus, discipline, and fortitude that you need to survive," through her passion for playing piano.

Arshanskaya was made a hero in the telling of her tale. Today, she is 83 years old.

Previously published in the Valencia Voice

District Board of Trustees Meeting - Spring Updates

ORLANDO, Fla. - The Board of Trustees for Valencia Community College met Tuesday to discuss such widely debated topics as course additions, grant proposals, and school budgets.

Ultimately, a few representatives (including select students,) will travel to Tallahassee to lobby for attention from the state government toward these issues.

Valencia is also introducing renewable energy training courses on the innovations of solar and wind power for Engineering and Engineering Technology students, to begin as early as this summer. In July, workshops will be held for all Community Colleges, provided by funding from various endowed chairs.

Dr. Deb Hall shared some information on last month's trip to Mastatal, Costa Rica, where students helped set up solar panels on the roofs of the houses of underprivileged families.

The school is taking another step in that direction. Valencia recently wrote a check for the ownership of property around Lake Nona, which will be used to build a new campus.

This campus will likely center around programs such as Engineering Technology. The first three years of development will be largely funded by philanthropic endeavors and fundraisers.

"Construction will take close to a year, just to break ground," said Valencia's President Dr. Sanford Shugart. Over the course of the summer, or as long as it takes, focus groups made up of students and faculty will be involved in naming the new building. As of right now, it is dedicated to its primary donor.

"The people of Lake Nona will definitely appreciate our contribution," Shugart said.

With the construction of this new campus, the goal is to curb the current over enrollment of Valencia for the future.

Dr. Joyce Romano and Dr. Kaye Walter's Spring enrollment report declared that there is currently a head count of 35,004 students attending classes college wide, up 9.1% from last year.

That's a total of 3147 more students.

While the average class size is still around 25 students, the Osceola campus is filled to 95 percent capacity. The school is going to add 6 to 10 more classrooms, temporarily, until requested funding comes through.

During the meeting, the Board of Trustees also discussed the bills planned for lobby at Tallahassee this year. They proposed new transportation opportunities for the students, advice for handling the exponential influx of students, and they are requesting a budget of $67 million from the state.

Shugart said this amount should cover the costs of funding the growth in enrollment. The school still needs to wrap up the construction for the Special Events Center on West campus, as well as other projects in the works throughout the college.

President of the Student Government Association for West Campus, Robert Stio, had some concerns regarding transportation issues for students, as well. He said there are not enough sidewalks around campus and that students are having larger issues with getting to and from school, in general.

Stio will propose to Governor Charlie Crist that students pay $6, per credit hour and once a year, for added routes and times for the Lynx bus in the area.

Considerations for a shuttle between East and West campus are currently up for debate.

The chairman of the Board of Trustees, Lew Oliver, said that in order to keep our school's success rate high, we as students, need to be able to make a difference in the political process.

"We can do this by mobilizing the students," Oliver said. "I don't think a single student has called a single legislator."

For anything to change, Governor Crist must decide which bills to veto and which to pass, this coming April.

Previously published in the Valencia Voice

Thursday, February 18, 2010

"Get Your Sexy Back"

WINTER PARK, Fla. - The Peer Educators of Valencia Community College support safe sex. The students of the Winter Park campus came together Thursday, to bring awareness to the student body about the consequences unprotected sex may reap.

There were tables set up, laden with finger sandwiches and information packets. The girls even made a bouquet of roses out of unopened condom wrappers.

Some of the event goers held passionate beliefs on the uses of condoms and being careful with sexual partners, in general.

David Ives, a sophomore, said, "Sex is a very relative issue. It's better to show condoms and make them available, for health reasons, than to hide the fact altogether."

Having unprotected sex may lead to Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) in women, and all sorts of other dismal acronyms. Not to mention, unexpected pregnancy.

"A lot of girls are uneducated. [They] disuse birth control. They think that's all they need," a student admitted.

The active ingredient that serves as a spermicide in birth control is nonoxynol-9. Although it is designed to serve as a barrier between the sperms' interaction with ovaries, it can't prevent bacteria from entering the body and wreaking havoc with the organ systems there.

The truth is, 90% of women infected with STDs, such as gonorrhea and chlamydia, have little or no symptoms. But, if treated promptly, antibiotics can help combat these diseases from spreading throughout the body.

The Peer Educators came up with the entire idea behind "Get Your Sexy Back" on their own. This is the first year that an event has been arranged to engage and encourage students to be aware of their decisions with sex.

Nikki Arnold, who was the head organizer, attributes most of her ideas for this event to the recent Bacchus conference for Peer Educators.

She and Sylvia Martinez, in charge of Student Development on campus, added a more Valentine's Day feel to the decorations and overall theme. The concept of the holiday mixed with all of its implications-relationship wise-seemed an appropriate approach, Nikki says.

Though, one freshman said he didn't attend the event necessarily for informational purposes:

"I like the candy, or edibles, that might be around," he said. "Free candy, that was the puller."

Previously published in the Valencia Voice

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Campus Crusade for Christ

ORLANDO, Fla. - A little known group of students and staff members gather around for weekly meetings for the Campus Crusade for Christ, every Tuesday.

On the afternoon of Feb. 2, 20 students attended the 1 p.m. showing of "Incredible Creatures that Defy Evolution."

Dr. Jobe Martin, the key speaker throughout the film, said, "There is no way a slow, graduated process could produce this little bug." He is referring to the evolution of the African Bombardier Beetle.

The film questions the validity in choosing to believe only in the idea of creationism or the theory of evolution. In putting his own perspective into the film, Dr. Jobe Martin is saying that animals can't develop certain parts of their bodies, over time, because they would need those defense mechanisms and eating tools to survive in the first place. "You can't evolve, if you're dead," Martin said.

To begin the afternoon, student Michael Levins sang "How He Loves" and "Amazing Grace," all while playing his electronic piano. By the end of the second verse of the first song, an eclectic string of different tonalities came together to form an impromptu chorus of young voices. A few students were even swaying to the music.

When asked about the driving force behind Levins' performance, he said, "God has just blessed me with these talents and I must respect them."

Larry Nieboer, the head representative for the group, gave his own perspective on the group as a whole: "Campus Crusade is made up of different denominations. We believe that the bible is God's unchanged word. That's what unites us. We're not tied to any one denomination."

The Campus Crusade for Christ began in 1992 on the West campus of Valencia. Members now hold weekly bible studies, service projects, and club socials such as trips to the Holy Land Experience, Downtown Disney, and Universal Boardwalk. There are currently over 150 countries in the world that have colleges and universities where the Campus Crusade for Christ is thriving and growing.

Anna Gabriel said she goes "for fellowship," and "To support and to encourage other believers."

Next week, Nieboer will lead a lecture focusing on the teachings of the Bible and hold a discussion group. There may even be a little music to listen to, as well.

The SGA Elections

ORLANDO, Fla. - Positions for the Student Government Association will soon be up for grabs. By this time in November, votes will be rolling in for the future leaders of Valencia Community College.

"There are spots available for positions as the president, vice president, secretary, chief of staff, and treasurer," says Edwin Harvey, the current student president of the Winter Park campus.

Several events and promotions are being scheduled in order to bring awareness of the SGA elections to the student body.

Student president of the West campus, Robert Stio, admits: "There are currently students who are getting nominations." Already, there are more students participating in the elections this year, than there were last term.

Every year, the SGA holds a holiday bash in the month of November, which usually takes place right before polls open up for new positions in the White House, as well as for the government of each individual state.

There was free miniature golf last year on the Osceola campus, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Raffle tickets were given away at the door, giving the students a chance to win a free vacation at the Gaylord Palms Resort. This package included a room for two, for two nights, and tickets to an "Ice" show. The prize was worth over $600 total.

There was also a holiday dinner from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., which included ham, turkey, mashed potatoes and more, for all who attended.

SGA does more than host fancy celebrations, though. The members also meet four times a year to discuss issues that affect both the school and the students, in the realm of finances, funds, and supplies.

The presidents of SGA are also taking a trip to Tallahassee, in April, to lobby a few bills and really analyze the candidates for the government of the United States. Valencia Community College even has its own personal lobbyist, Bill Mullowney, who may be attending.

"We want to look into each candidate and see if they have the same goals and ideals as we do," said the student president of Osceola campus, Frank Velez.

The student government hosts two job fairs per semester, to enlighten the students as to what careers are booming or dying. "We're going to touch upon each separate degree program," said Velez, referring to next year.

Applications for candidacy have already gone out to each respective campus, as well as to the education board of Valencia. Students can obtain them from SGA advisers, as well.

Some parting words from the Osceola student president, regarding the students who are looking to be nominated:

"We're looking at the ones who would like to step up and take our place, next year."

Monday, February 1, 2010

Visions and Voices Presents Poet Stephen Dunn

WINTER PARK, Fla. - Poet Stephen Dunn was the guest of honor for Thursday afternoon's Visions and Voices presentation.

Room 226 on the Winter Park campus was packed with enough students that the maintenance crew took down the air wall that usually separates the room into sections. This second room filled up just as quickly as the first.

Dunn's poems touch upon such topics as the philosophy of the urban teenager, clowns taken out of context, and the science behind dead words. The lines of his poetry ring with stories of day to day events and the different ways that average things can be seen.

Between readings, he told the crowd a little about himself. Dunn said he earned his first degree from Hofstra University, using a basketball scholarship and that he was a very quiet student.

He didn't realize that he was different from the other players on his team until they went to see the movie The Misfits (starring Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe.) When his friends asked him to explain the movie, afterward, he discovered that he understood more about story and literature than the average jock.

Before the event, Valencia student, Andrea Ribeiro, said "My professor said great things about him," and that she "used to listen to a lot of poetry in Brazil, but this will be my first time listening to an American poet."

Matt Gregor, who is currently enrolled in Dr. Kusnetz's creative writing class, said "I liked the ones that were sort of about everyday things."

After reading such poems as "Odysseus' Secret," "What Goes On," and "Burying the Cat," Dunn listened and advised a private group of students on their latest poems. Professor Dr. Ilyse Kusnetz organized a small session of, no more than, 12 students to gather around and talk to Stephen Dunn about his tips and suggestions for writing poetry.

One tip he gave was to cross out everything that doesn't advance the poem during revision, such as repetitive words and unnecessary metaphors. "You may need to startle yourself into saying that which you didn't know you were going to say," he said.

Stephen Dunn is now a professor of creative writing at the Richard Stockton College in New Jersey. He has also been a visiting professor at the University of Washington, University of Columbia, New York University, and the University of Michigan. He has written 16 books, including Pulitzer Prize winner Different Hours.